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EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-5930. February 17, 1954.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ABELO


ARAGON, Defendant-Appellant.

Amadeo D. Seno for Appellant.

Assistant Solicitor General Francisco Carreon and Solicitor Ramon L. Avancea


for Appellee.

SYLLABUS

1. BIGAMY; NULLITY OF SECOND MARRIAGE, NO DEFENSE IN THE BIGAMY CASE. A


second marriage contracted by a man while the first marriage is not yet dissolved is
illegal and void (Act 3613, section 29). Its nullity, however, is no defense to a criminal
action for bigamy filed against him.

2. ID.; CIVIL ACTION FOR ANNULMENT OF SECOND MARRIAGE, NOT A DEFENSE IN THE
BIGAMY CASE. The filing, while the bigamy case is pending, of a civil action by the
woman in the second marriage for its annulment by reason of force and intimidation
upon her by the man, is not a bar or defense to the criminal action. The civil action does
not decide that he entered the marriage against his will and consent, because the
complaint therein does not allege that he was the victim of force and intimidation in the
second marriage. It was he who used the force or intimidation and he may not use his
own malfeasance to defeat the action based on his criminal act.

3. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; PREJUDICIAL QUESTION, EXPLAINED. A decision in such


civil action is not essential before the criminal charge can be determined. It is, therefore,
not a prejudicial question. Prejudicial question has been defined to be that which arises
in a case the resolution of which (question) is a logical antecedent of the issue involved
in said case, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal (10 Enciclopedia
Juridica Espaola, p. 228). The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case
before the court; this is its first element. Jurisdiction to try said question must be lodged
in another tribunal; this is the second element. In an action for bigamy, for example, if
the accused claims that the first marriage is null and void, and the right to decide such
validity is vested in another tribunal, the civil action for nullity must first be decided
before the action for bigamy can proceed; hence, the validity of the first marriage is a
prejudicial question.

4. PLEADING AND PRACTICE; APPEALS; APPEALABLE ORDERS OR JUDGMENTS;


INTERLOCUTORY ORDERS, NOT APPEALABLE. An order denying a motion to dismiss is
not a final judgment or order, and is therefore not appealable (Rule 118, sections 1 and
2).
DECISION

LABRADOR, J.:

The defendant in the above-entitled case is charged in the Court of First Instance of
Cebu with the crime of bigamy, for having contracted a second marriage with one
Efigenia C. Palomer on September 21, 1947, while his previous valid marriage with
Martina Godinez was still subsisting and had not been dissolved. The information is
dated May 22, 1951. On October 11, 1951, while the case was pending trial, Efigenia C.
Palomer filed a civil action in the same Court of First Instance of Cebu against the
defendant-appellant, alleging that the latter "by means of force, threats and intimidation
of bodily harm, forced plaintiff to marry him", and praying that their marriage on
September 21, 1947 be annulled (Annex A). Thereupon and on April 30,
1952, Defendant-Appellant filed a motion in the criminal case for bigamy, praying that
the criminal charge be provisionally dismissed, on the ground that the civil action for
annulment of the second marriage is a prejudicial question. The court denied this motion
on the ground that the validity of the second marriage may be determined in the very
criminal action for bigamy. Against this order this appeal has been presented to this
court.

It is contended that as the marriage between the defendant- appellant and Efigenia C.
Palomer is merely a voidable marriage, and not an absolutely void marriage, it can not
be attacked in the criminal action and, therefore, it may not be considered therein;
consequently, that the civil action to annul the second marriage should first be decided
and the criminal action, dismissed. It is not necessary to pass upon this question
because we believe that the order of denial must be sustained on another ground.

Prejudicial question has been defined to be that which arises in a case, the resolution of
which (question) is a logical antecedent of the issue involved in said case, and the
cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal (Cuestin prejudicial, es la que surge en
un pleito o causa, cuya resolucin sea antecedente logico de la cuestin objeto del pleito
o causa y cuyo conocimiento corresponda a los Tribunales de otro orden o jurisdiccin
X Enciclopedia Juridica Espaola, p. 228). The prejudicial question must be
determinative of the case before the court; this is its first element. Jurisdiction to try
said question must be lodged in another tribunal; this is the second element. In an
action for bigamy, for example, if the accused claims that the first marriage is null and
void and the right to decide such validity is vested in another tribunal, the civil action for
nullity must first be decided before the action for bigamy can proceed; hence, the
validity of the first marriage is a prejudicial question.

There is no question that if the allegations of the complaint on time the marriage
contracted by defendant-appellant with Efigenia C. Palomer is illegal and void (Sec. 29,
Act 3613 otherwise known as the Marriage Law). Its nullity, however, is no defense to
the criminal action for bigamy filed against him. The supposed use of force and
intimidation against the woman, Palomer, even if it were true, is not a bar or defense to
said action. Palomer, were she the one charged with bigamy, could perhaps raise said
force or intimidation as a defense, because she may not be considered as having freely
and voluntarily committed the act if she was forced to the marriage by intimidation. But
not the other party, who used the force or intimidation. The latter may not use his own
malfeasance to defeat the action based on his criminal act.

It follows that the pendency of the civil action for the annulment of the marriage filed by
Efigenia C. Palomer, is absolutely immaterial to the criminal action filed against
defendant-appellant. This civil action does not decide that defendant-appellant did not
enter the marriage against his will and consent, because the complaint does not allege
that he was the victim of force and intimidation in the second marriage; it does not
determine the existence of any of the elements of the charge of bigamy. A decision
thereon is not essential to the determination of the criminal charge. It is, therefore, not
a prejudicial question.

There is another reason for dismissing the appeal. The order appealed from is one
denying a motion to dismiss and is not a final judgment. It is, therefore, not appealable
(Rule 118, secs. 1 and 2).

The order appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against defendant-appellant. So
ordered.

Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ.,
concur.